„Athens Marathon. The Authentic“ – Marathon Flame – Symbolism and Lighting of the Marathon Flame
  • Home
  • International
  • „Athens Marathon. The Authentic“ – Marathon Flame – Symbolism and Lighting of the Marathon Flame

Lighting the flame: Kiplagat and George Hirsch in Marathon 2ß14 ©Horst Milde

„Athens Marathon. The Authentic“ – Marathon Flame – Symbolism and Lighting of the Marathon Flame

By GRR 0

The "Athens Marathon. The Authentic" is the ORIGINAL MARATHON, the only one that follows the original course, whose name hundreds of marathons all over the world have taken.

It is absolutely reasonable for the marathon movement to recognize the Marathon Tomb as a place of mention for all marathon races worldwide. This is the place where they yearly light their flame the eve of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic, just as the Olympic Flame is lit at Olympia, the center of the Olympic Games.

The Marathon Flame is aimed at becoming a symbol of human will and international peace, at promoting the ideals of the Marathon race all over the world, at serving the principles of sports and at promoting the participation in running as a way of living.

On 2007, acting on behalf of the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS) and the Municipality of Marathon, the Organizing Committeeof the Athens Marathon, the Authentic, enacted the Marathon Flame, which now forms a new symbol of the International Marathon movement.

The logo of the “Marathon Flame” expresses the anthropocentric philosophy of the Marathon Movement. The Flame-Man is at the centre of this logo. It is the “flame” that each man has inside him and helps him win the marathon course of our creative life. The Flame represents the strength of will that allows the simple and single man-citizen-runner to successfully overcome the hard times of everyday life. In the moments of steep grades we daily face, the Flame stands up and with great will and exaltation finishes successfully the “good and noble” daily round.

The main subject of the Marathon movement is the simple and single runner, who along with thousands of others could make the difference and promote a different way of quality life and communication. In this way, the triangular torch of the logo shows the evolution of the Marathon movement that was born from one single incident during time and it keeps getting bigger ever since, and at the same time promotes the course of every race that is run within the city borders, giving life to the city and expanding its potentials for better living quality.

The message of “Will Knows No Limits” seems to be the most suitable one for the Marathon Flame and allows its naming as Flame of Will as well.

The Opening Ceremony of the "Athens Marathon. The Authentic"

The Tomb of Marathon

The Athens Marathon, the Authentic stands out distinctively in the world of sports and culture, since it has the privilege to use the historic symbols of the marathon race, meaning the original course from the historical starting line of the Marathon race in 1896, the Tomb of Marathon and the Panathenaic Stadium.

Since 2007, SEGAS organizes the Opening Ceremony of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic inside the archeological site of the Marathon Tomb, promoting in that way the unique historical dimensions of this event worldwide.

On the occasion of the staging of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic, the archeological site of the Marathon Tomb is set in the center of the international marathon movement, thus promoting:
(1) The prime reason of the event, i.e. the Marathon Battle and the legendary hoplite-imerodromos.
(2) The town and the tomb of Marathon, as well as the region as the seat of the Marathon Movement.
(3) The crowning moment in the history of the marathon movement, the first Olympic marathon in 1896 that finished inside the Panathinaikon Stadium.
(4) The relation between the marathon race, Greece and the Olympic Movement.
(5) The original course and its uniqueness.

The Ceremony

It is inside the archeological site of the Tomb of Marathon that the ceremony for the promotion of the old time classic message of the Marathon Battle and the legendary achievement of the ancient hoplite-imerodromos takes place. The main performance is related to modern man and his struggle to regain his internal power, the breath, the vision and the ardor he needs to run his everyday life marathon”.

In the center of the performance “CHOROS (Dance)” is in search of “his power”, of a vision in order to complete his movement, which in the beginning due to the lack of vision, hope, action and light, makes the dancers’ bodies look languid, dead, meaningless. Then, the imerodromos of victory, like a dues ex machine resurrects carrying hope, light, the flame of life and will that never ceases. This is the point when the Marathon Flame lights, a new international symbol of the Marathon Movement that is born inside the place where everything started 2,500 years ago.

The Lighting and the Torch Relay of the Marathon Flame

The Marathon Flame is lit every November, one day before the Athens Marathon, the Authentic during a special ritual with international impact, taking place in the birthplace of the marathon race.

The Marathon Flame Lighting Ceremony takes place inside the sacred archeological site of the Tomb of Marathon, where dead soldiers from the battle of Marathon are buried. This ceremony is aimed at keeping, developing and promoting the historical importance of the Marathon Battle in 490 BC for modern culture, and at the same time at making the story of the ancient imerodromos famous; a person who ran from Marathon to Athens transferring the message of victory, an act that inspired the institution of the Marathon race.

This event takes place in the presence of Greek Authorities, of IAAF and AIMS, with the participation of the Municipalities where from passes the marathon course and, of course, the municipalities of Marathon and Athens.

The First Lighting of the Flame

The First Lighting of the Marathon Flame took place on November 3rd, 2007 at the site of the Marathon Tomb, under the auspices and in the presence of the Greek Ministers of State, Tourism and Culture, the Prefecture of Eastern Attica, the Mayor of Marathon as well as of other Mayors of the region, members of the Greek Parliament, the President and Members of the Council Board of SEGAS, the General Secretary and Members of IAAF and AIMS Council, the President and Members of the Organizing Committee of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic, citizens of Marathon, as well as of famous Greek and foreign athletes.

From the Marathon Tomb to the Historical Start of the Marathon Race

Immediately after the lighting of the Flame, the latter is being transferred through a torch relay to the Historical Start Line of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic and the altar that was built and put there on the occasion of the 2004 Olympic Games. The distance is 5km and the torch is carried by young students mainly from schools of the Municipality of Marathon and the broader area.

Lighting of the Altar and the Marathon Race Museum

Once the Flame reaches the Historical Start of the Marathon race, citizens of the historical town of Marathon, together with the representatives of Greek and international authorities welcome it. Legendary athletes or significant representatives of international and national sports authorities are invited to light the altar.

Under the Altar at the starting line, there is always the marble sign with the indication 40 ΣΤ (40 stages) found exactly there during the restoration works at that spot before the Athens Olympic Games, and proves the authenticity of the historical Starting line of the Marathon Race, which in 1896 had started from the small bridge of the stream Charadros, part of which still exists close to that site.

On the occasion of this particular lighting of the Altar, there is a short symbolic delivery of the Marathon Flame to Marathon races that have asked for it and have taken the permission of SEGAS, of the Municipality of Marathon and of AIMS (the terms and conditions of this delivery are mentioned bellow). The altar remains lit until the starting time of the Athens Classic Marathon (the next day) and once all runners have started, it is transferred and hosted in the Marathon Race Museum in the Municipality of Marathon.

Thousands of visitors can see the Marathon Flame in the Marathon Race Museum every year, as a symbol of fraternization and cooperation among all marathon races worldwide. It is from there that the flame travels through out the continents in the framework of the exchanges taking place between the "Athens Marathon. The Authentic", SEGAS, the Municipality of Marathon and other international marathon races.

Inside the Museum (in a traditional building of 1908, donated by Andreas Syggros) visitors can also admire the permanent exhibition “Olympic Marathons”, special sections involving famous athletes, priceless personal belongings and trophies, such as Spyros Louis’ authentic medal, a copy of his Cup, souvenirs taken from Kyriakides, Ragazos, Vartzakis, Kouses, as well as of the pioneer of the pacifist movement, Grigors Labrakis. .

The Anniversary of 2500 years from the Battle of Marathon

In 2010, the Marathon movement and the entire world celebrated the 2,500 years from the legendary Marathon Battle, the prime reason for the birth of the marathon movement. All Marathon Races Organizers celebrated this special occasion in the same way.

In Athens, in a unique atmosphere, on October 31, 2010, twelve thousands five hundred runners ran the original course of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic and honored the soldier-messenger that gave the reason for the birth of the marathon race itself. Under the coordination of SEGAS and in cooperation with AIMS and IAAF, the Greek State, the municipalities of Marathon and Athens, as well as other institutions celebrated this unique anniversary and hosted the best popular massive Marathon race ever in Greece.

Especially for 2010, SEGAS, the Hellenic Athletics Association hosted the 18th World Congress of AIMS, where almost one hundred Marathon organizers from all over the world participated, as well as a special celebration event at the court of Zappion Megaron, focusing on the history of the Marathon Movement and honoring some of the living athletes-legends of the sport.

On its behalf, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism supported, throughout the year, a number of other events aiming at promoting this significant anniversary of the Marathon Battle and its consequences to the survival of Western Civilization and the establishment and development of democracy in Greece and the rest of the world. Indicative of these events are:
• The International Symposium hosted by European Cultural Centre of Delphi under the title “Marathon, the Next Day”
• The revival of the Pheidippidian epic by the Greek Marathon runner Maria Polyzou
• The International Congress on Democracy held in Delphi by the Society of Economic Research on “Economics, Politics and Ethics in the light of Intellectual Inheritance of Ancient Athens”
• An Exhibition on Democracy the Spyros Merkouris hosted by the Zappeion Megaro
• The Marathon Marathon Project by Obrist at the Panathinaikon Stadium
• An Exhibition on Archives by Georios Dolianitis, presented in 20 different countries simultaneously under the title “The Marathon Battle: Diachronic Patter of Heroism – Perpetual Fountain of Inspiration” in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• The staging of the opera “Marathon – Salamis” by the Greek Opera House
• The Exhibition of the Greek Parliament Institution of the Marathon Battle Anniversary

Travelling the Flame to other Marathon Races

From 2007, the Marathon Flame has already travelled to the following cities: Boston and Chicago (USA), Genova (Italy), Belgrade (Serbia), Shanghai and Xiamen (China), Mumbai (India), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Omsk (Siberia – Russia), Toronto and Ottawa (Canada), Quito (Ecuador), Maritzburg (South Africa), Mexico City (Mexico) and Antarctica.

Source: "Athens Marathon. The Authentic"

Presentation on Marathon Flame (March 2012).pdf



author: GRR